...at a Tube station.
"Which way is it to central London?" a young man in tee-shirt and jeans, brandishing his ticket. London not his home patch, he was from Wales. He wanted to get to the Tower of London. I was heading for Waterloo so got him to Charing Cross, and we walked down to Embankment.
He was a soldier, hurrying to see various places: London, Paris and Rome. We talked Army for a while, then got chatting about other things. No, he hadn't any luggage: no need for spare clothes, he'd buy some on the way. (This is the generation that goes anywhere, with a cash-card and a mobile phone and supreme confidence). In Rome, I said, do get to St Peter's, it's superb. "Yeah. But I'm an atheist... I think". I said thought that unlikely, as he was too open and interested in things. "Yeah. Well, I do think there's something. I'm not an atheist really. Agnostic."
We were almost at Embankment Tube station now. Conversation had veered from Rome to Paris and back to London (He knew a lot, he said: did a marathon, parade in Whitehall, Union Jack Club at Waterloo), and then to Rome again. I told him about the marker in St Peter's Square where John Paul II was shot. He was the "Do not be afraid" Pope, I said. "That's my motto" he said. "That's what I always think." I suddenly remembered the medals of Bl JP that a friend had brought from a recent trip to Rome and fumbled to find one, but couldn't, and hauled out a rosary instead. "I want to give you a medal of -" I began, but it got too complicated to explain and we were both in a hurry so, I said "Take this, just put it in your pocket, for your journey". "Not my pocket" he said "I'll do this" and tugged it over his head so that it hung round his neck. Then I said "District line. On your left. Tower Hill" and we grinned a goodbye.